I had seen the Virginia Beach School of the Arts on Facebook and “liked” them. They had colorful pictures of children smiling and having fun; it seemed like a neat local business I would love to hear more about. I got a quick response inviting me to one of their classes. So, we set up and date and time and we were on our way!
Now, let me preempt this story by saying I was nervous how this class might go for a few reasons. Jonas was joining a “Music Readiness” class for 3-4 year old students, and he was bound to be the youngest in the class, being that his 3rd birthday is still a couple weeks away. My son hadn’t napped that day (we’re in the awkward phase of where he still really needs one but doesn’t want one…that’s a whole ‘nother story…), and, most alarming, had never been in a “structured class” environment before!
When I found out we could come try a class for free, yes I said FREE, we couldn’t pass it up. If you know my son, you know he loves music – playing, singing, and dancing, you name it! Let me tell you about our experience and then I’ll tell you how to try a free class, too!
We arrived at Virginia Beach School of the Arts just a couple minutes before 6:30, when our class was slotted to start. Unsure of where to go, we followed the group of people who were arriving and entering at the same time, and they directed us to the right place! Mrs. Virginia introduced herself as the previous class was exiting and the new students were arriving. She was warm and friendly, and welcomed us with a smile.
Settling in, he sat at the back of the mat with his classmates. They quickly got started, and boy was I impressed! This carpet full of 3-4 year olds started off by singing a song naming each president, then moved on to singing the states and their capitals. They even knew matching hand gestures! Color me impressed.
After that, they transitioned to looking at a world map to find Australia and sang about some local sights and animals, like the Sydney Opera House and kangaroos. Mrs. Virginia was able to add subject specific content to her lessons, even quizzing the kids, while keeping the environment very light and fun for the little ones.
Next, the class moved on to using sticks to make patterns and beats to go along with the song “Mustang Sally”. This was my son’s absolute favorite part. Earlier in the class, (and later, to be honest) Mrs. Virginia had to gently remind Jonas where to be and what to do, but during this part he was totally on board with the rest of the class! He’s even practiced a few “clap, clap, stomp”‘s around the house!
After that, she started teaching them about the different types of music notes. She allowed them to draw notes on their own dry erase board. Mrs. Virginia also showed them what each different type looked like (including quarter notes, whole notes, etc.), taught them how many beats to hold each note, and then allowed them to use their feet to find a match to the one she was holding. They loved the interactivity to each piece of her lesson!
Lastly, she took out a few keyboards and allowed them to play a song by showing them which notes to play. Jonas had an absolute blast, and I could tell the other kids did as well. Mrs. Virginia did an excellent job of keeping all the children engaged and entertained.
I was most impressed by how much they fit in 45 minutes. Yes, you read that right. A group of 3 and 4 year old children accomplished all of the fun tasks listed above in under an hour. It was obvious Mrs. Virginia was experienced, and professional as she seamlessly moved through each activity. Not only are these children learning about music, but also U.S. and world geography and history. Most impressive, in my opinion, was that they are learning to listen and follow instruction, as well as think critically and creatively.
The best part? You can try a class with your babe for free, and see if it’s a good fit. I’m guessing it will be! They offer classes in music and arts, including a Mommy & Me class for students as young as 3 months old.
Here’s their Facebook page and website for more information. Mrs. Virginia even reached out to me via her personal Facebook page, and gave me her cell phone number in case I had any questions! Call them at 757-717-7187 and schedule your class today!